Connect with us

Championship

Can Will Huffer follow in Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s footsteps?

The teenager is an England youth international and will look to be a future Leeds star.

Mathew Nash

Published

on

Leeds United have recently made a change in the goalkeeping department. After Andy Lonergan came down ill and with Felix Wiedwald injured a youngster got the call-up. Bailey Peacock-Farrell has played in the past two games for Leeds.

The 21-year-old, who previously made his first-team debut v QPR in April 2016, has struggled to make an impact since that initial breakthrough. But he has impressed in his last two games, but should it give hope for another Leeds talent?

LEEDS, ENGLAND – JANUARY 09: Fans look on during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Leeds United and Rotherham United at Elland Road on January 9, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)

Will Huffer has not yet made a breakthrough to the Leeds first-team. The 19-year-old is a top talent and has played for England at youth level. For a number of years now Leeds fans  believed that Huffer could go on to be a star at Leeds.

But when Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom needed to bring a new goalie into the first-team fold, Huffer did not get the call. Instead Leeds decided to bring Polish stopper Kamil Miazek into first-team training.

In some aspects that makes sense. The January signing from Feyenoord is older than Huffer and therefore perhaps considered more experienced. Leeds though have sent a mixed message to Huffer with that decision.

during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Leeds United at iPro Stadium on February 21, 2018 in Derby, England.

Miazek only walked through the door at Thorp Arch in January, whilst Huffer has been with the club for a number of years. He was also handed a new professional contract at Leeds in December. Clearly he is highly thought of at Leeds, but is still considered too green for first-team involvement.

This summer there is likely to be plenty of change in the goalkeeping position at Elland Road. Heckingbottom is clearly not a fan of Wiedwald, whilst Lonergan has not been in form since his return.

Huffer faces a fight for his under-23 spot with Polish stopper Miazek. But with Peacock-Farrell in the starting spot Huffer can certainly take heart from his older team-mate’s progression into the first-team.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Cardiff City

Exclusive: Cardiff City’s Joe Bennett discusses his new contract; promotion and new signings

The full-back spoke exclusively to The Boot Room as he looks ahead to the Bluebird’s top flight return.

Jake Jackman

Published

on

Joe Bennett
Photo: Getty Images

Joe Bennett has been on the books of six clubs since breaking into professional football, but he has found his home in the Welsh capital with Cardiff City.

The 28-year-old left-back played a key role in the Bluebirds’ surprise promotion and he is now relishing the opportunity of proving himself in the Premier League.

Earlier this month, Cardiff extended Bennett’s contract until the summer of 2021 as a reward for his contribution.

During the 2017/18 season, he made 41 appearances for the club and Neil Warnock has made sure that his left-back remained in Wales for their second ever season in the Premier League.

In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, the 28-year-old spoke about his delight at receiving a new contract.

“It’s been really good ever since I’ve come to Cardiff. I’ve really enjoyed it. I think it was nice to get everything sorted out before the season and I was really happy to sign, as all the fans have been good to me.

“We had a really good last season. It all got sorted out really quickly. We’d only been speaking for a couple of weeks and then I signed. I’m really happy to have signed and now I can concentrate on having a good season“

Few people expected Cardiff to achieve promotion and their doubters remained until the very last kick of the season.

Although they had been in the top two places for the majority of the campaign, Championship rivals Fulham were hot on their tails and were regarded as the team that neutrals wanted to see take the second automatic promotion spot.

However, the Bluebirds clung on to second position and won a promotion that was very well-earned over the course of the campaign.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

They may not have been the most exciting team to watch, but they reached the 90-point mark and won 27 matches. Their work rate, organisation and team spirit made them a difficult team to beat.

“Nobody expected us to go up, definitely not in the top two anyway. Our aim based on the previous season was probably to get into the play-offs. Anything other than that was a bonus really. We were in the top three or four for most of the season.

“It ended up being a really good season and one that not many people expected. I think we can be really proud of what we achieved and hopefully we can do the same this season as well.”

The Championship is often lauded as one of the most competitive leagues in the world and Cardiff’s promotion will give hope to a lot of the teams in the division that they can reach the Premier League.

Their success was based on the managerial abilities of Neil Warnock, who achieved yet another promotion in a storied career.

The Cardiff team lacked star names, but they were built into a formidable unit that was greater than the sum of its parts.

The system allowed players to perform and Bennett is a great example of that. He finished the season as one of the best full-backs in the second tier, both in a defensive and attacking role.

The 28-year-old contributed a goal and four assists in the attacking half, while he regularly caused problems when he was given license to roam forward.

He was quick to praise the manager behind his and Cardiff’s excellent season.

“He knows what types of players that he wants and he keeps a lot of the things the same throughout the season. To be fair, it works as he’s had eight promotions, which is a record.

“He’s just a really good manager and he gets the players going. You wouldn’t expect a player to play like they do, but he gets the best out of his players and I think that is what makes him so good.”

The praise of Warnock’s man-management skills won’t come as a surprise, but it is interesting when Bennett goes into more depth about his own development under the veteran manager.

Throughout his career, the left-back has performed well for the likes of Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, but he has taken another step at Cardiff.

“I came to a club as a left wing-back. I was a more attacking option when I first joined. Ever since he has come in, we have played a lot of games as a flat back four. He’s just improved my game.

“Defensively, I know what he wants me to do. There are times when he doesn’t want any risks at the back. That definitely improved my game and I think last season was one of my best seasons as a footballer. A lot of that is down to him and the team as well.”

Cardiff didn’t play free-flowing attacking football for the majority of the season; therefore, Bennett was required to play a more disciplined role. Warnock provided him with the knowledge required to thrive in the system, as shown by his average of 3.2 ball recoveries and 3.4 clearances per game. He was regularly making key defensive contributions, while maintaining an attacking threat.

Although the team impressed and showed consistency throughout the campaign, the promotion wasn’t as comfortable as they would have hoped. Fulham surged up the Championship table during the second half of the season and had a chance of gazumping Cardiff on the final day. The Welsh side only needed to win, but they were held at home by Reading.

Luckily for the Bluebirds, Fulham were unable to get the victory that they needed to finish in second position. They were beaten comfortably by Birmingham City. The final day could have gone better for Neil Warnock’s team, but they got what they wanted. Bennett admitted that he had an idea that results were going their way, despite their own struggles.

“I had an inkling just from the way the fans reacted to the first goal. Then they were singing that Fulham were losing, but it can all change very quickly in a game.

“We went out there and wanted to beat Reading, then let the other stuff take care of itself. If we won, we were going up. It worked out well. When they went 2-0 up, we could enjoy the day a little bit more as it wasn’t as tense as we thought it might be.”

The results meant that Cardiff achieved an unlikely promotion and a number of players would be entering the Premier League for their first time. Unlike several of his team-mates, Bennett does have top-flight experience. He featured in the division with both Middlesbrough and Aston Villa.

For the latter, he played over 30 times in the Premier League, but he failed to make a lasting impression. Since moving to Cardiff, he has improved considerably and he admits that he goes into the 2018/19 campaign with a point to prove.

“A little bit of a point to prove. Obviously, I didn’t play that many games and most of them were for Villa. I didn’t have the best of times at Villa, but I know that I developed as a player and I got better.

“I think that I’ve grown with age and definitely improved. I think we can go into the new season and nobody expects anything from the team. We can go into it with no pressure and enjoy it. I’m sure that we can surprise a few people.”

As signified by his new contract, the club are staying loyal to the left-back after his performances during the promotion-winning campaign. It could have been very different as Fulham showed an interest in him last summer. On that occasion, the 28-year-old demonstrated his loyalty, chosing to remain with the Bluebirds.

“I just wanted to show a bit of loyalty. I ended up speaking to my agent and I spoke to the manager as well. I told him that I wanted to stay and I thought that we were going in the right direction. We were winning a lot of games at the time. It was nice to stay and that loyalty has paid off as we got promoted.”

The summer has been a positive one for Cardiff. They have made a number of additions to strengthen the squad.

Neil Warnock hasn’t changed his strategy, containing to target hard working and talented players from the lower divisions to strengthen his squad, with Josh Murphy, Bobby Reid, Alex Smithies and Greg Cunningham all joining.

It could be seen as unambitious recruitment with Cardiff choosing to plan for the long-term and bring players in that will be prepared to stay if they are relegated. However, all four will be hungry to prove themselves in the top-flight and they will immediately fit in with the rest of the squad.

Bennett affirmed that the signings have been positively received by the squad.

“They have been really good signings. We played against them last season and they look good in training. I think the manager has gone down the young and hungry route, which is good. Players that have not played too much Premier League football before, but they did really well last season. They just want a chance and I’m sure that they will get that this season.”

The addition of Greg Cunningham is an interesting one as he will be providing competition to Bennett at left-back. While speaking to The Boot Room, the former Aston Villa full-back spoke positively about the signing and believes it will give him the impetus to step up his game.

“You are going to have that at every club, someone that wants to play in your spot. It is important to have that competition. It is healthy and it only improves you as a player.

“Greg can play in a couple of positions, so maybe we can play in the same team. I’m not too sure what the manager wants to do. It is only going to make be better and want to do better as well.”

The positive environment created this summer around the England team means that there will be an even greater desire for players to impress in the Premier League and break into that squad.

Bennett has previously played for the Under-21 team, but he admits the senior team is likely out of his reach with his focus being on Cardiff City.

“I don’t think that’s in my sights at the minute. The England team are doing really well at the minute and have a lot of young players, but I think that’s a little bit out of my reach at the minute. I’m concentrating on having a good season for Cardiff and the team is a young team.”

“There are a lot of young English players that want to show what they can do in the Premier League. Hopefully we can have a good season.”

Cardiff start the season as the favourites to get relegated, but the squad won’t be bothered by that. They weren’t fancied to do well in the Championship last season, yet they managed to get promoted and reach the Premier League above several teams with larger budgets.

Warnock has built a team in his image and they won’t be an easy team to play against, despite their perceived deficit in talent.

The players in the Bluebirds’ squad make up for that with their work rate and determination. Bennett is a great example of that.

He struggled to make an impact in the Premier League previously, but he learned from the experience and continued to develop in the Football League.

The 28-year-old will return as a much better player and with a point to prove. That bodes well for Cardiff City.

Continue Reading

Fulham

Four ins and outs Fulham could complete in the next week

The Cottagers look set for an active end to the transfer window.

Max Cohen

Published

on

Fulham
Photo: Getty Images

As Fulham’s preseason tour of France continues, the squad is preparing to battle some of Europe’s finest clubs.

Yet, there is substantial action going on off the pitch as well, with the Whites being linked with a host of top-quality talents.

Here are a number of possible arrivals and departures that could occur in the coming days.

Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle United

Mitrovic has seemed to be on the brink of completing a £20 million move from St. James’ Park to Craven Cottage for weeks now, but the following days could finally see the Serbian sign for Fulham.

According to the Standard, the Whites are closing in on a deal that makes sense for both parties. Rafa Benitez has no interest in keeping the striker, and Mitrovic loved his time at Fulham and found the form of his career last season.

Fabri from Besiktas

ESPN has reported Besiktas’ Spanish goalkeeper Fabri is the subject of an offer from Fulham, who are looking to strengthen the goalkeeping position after the departure of David Button.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed an excellent two seasons in Turkey, steering Besiktas to the Super Lig championship in 2016/17 and leading them to the Champions League knockout stage the following season.

An experienced goalkeeper with impressive Champions League success, Fabri would be a strong competitor with Marcus Bettinelli for the number one spot.

(Photo by Franck Fife/Getty Images)

Wilmar Barrios from Boca Juniors

After an impressive World Cup with Colombia, the combative defensive midfielder was linked with a number of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.

However, reports from Argentina, as well as Argentinian football expert Peter Coates, indicate that Fulham have tabled an offer for Barrios.

It would be a spectacular coup to beat some big Premier League clubs to his signature, but Fulham have done just that with Jean-Michael Seri a week ago.

Cauley Woodrow

Woodrow once looked set to be the next star striker at Craven Cottage, yet has lost his way in past years and most recently endured a tough loan spell at Bristol City where he scored just two goals.

The 23-year-old Englishman has been conspicuously absent from Fulham’s pre-season friendlies, missing from the starting XI and the bench in the three matches against Crawley Town, Reading, and Fenerbahce.

Although there have been no rumours linking him with an exit, it seems likely he will depart the club this summer as he is not part of Jokanovic’s first team plans.

Continue Reading

Newcastle United

Nottingham Forest fans should get excited about signing Jack Colback

The midfielder was a solid loan signing for Nottingham Forest during the 2017/18 campaign.

Published

on

Jack Colback
Photo: Getty Images

Nottingham Forest have been extremely active during the summer transfer window and the business done by the club has offered supporters optimism that the 2018/19 campaign might just be a good one for the Reds.

Spanish boss Aitor Karanka has possessed a ruthless streak during the off season and in signing nine players it seems pretty clear that he is determined to ensure he has the very best squad at his disposal ahead of the big kick-off.

According to the Daily Mail (19/07/18 16:09), signing number ten doesn’t look to be too far away, with former loan star Jack Colback seemingly set to re-sign for the Reds on a season-long loan from Newcastle United.

“The other players, they know because I told them I wanted to keep a smaller squad with players who will be part of the future. The others know they have to find a solution,” Rafa Benitez recently told the Newcastle Chronicle.

“It’s the same situation [with Colback]. He’s already talking with a club and then I think he will find a solution.”

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old made 16 appearances for the Reds last season, netting one goal, and his performances helped ensure that Forest didn’t become too embroiled in a relegation battle towards the end of the campaign.

Perhaps surprisingly Forest supporters are pretty divided when it comes to whether or not they want their club to complete a deal for Colback, although it seems pretty clear that some fans are letting the player’s excessive wages at Newcastle get in the way of making a balanced case for his arrival on Trentside being a good thing.

It is safe to say that the central midfielder is on a Premier League wage at the Magpies but the beauty of Forest securing another loan deal for the player is that they won’t have to foot the bill for whole salary, whilst Colback’s contract at St. James’ Park expires next summer making him a free agent.

It would appear, however, that the fans who don’t want Colback to check back in at the City Ground are somewhat unaware of the actual quality he brings with him.

During his spell with the East Midlands-based outfit last term he boasted a pass complete percentage of 89.6, according to WhoScored.com, and that sort of proficiency would be a massive asset for Forest as they look to try and challenge for promotion next season.

A changing of the guard has undoubtedly taken place under the stewardship of Aitor Karanka, with average no longer acceptable on the banks of the River Trent.

The signing of a player with Colback’s ability will only serve to enhance such a reputation and could go a long way towards Forest making a genuine push towards challenging for honours come the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 The Boot Room.